Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned a packed room Monday in Washington DC that a deal between Iran and world leaders could “threaten the survival” of Israel, saying “I have a moral obligation to speak up… while there is still time.”
Netanyahu explained in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that just as leaders of the United States worry about the security of America, so too “Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.”
Israel’s top leader repeatedly emphasized that he did not intend to jeopardize the relationship between the Jewish State and the United States. That was never the issue, he said, nor does he believe it is an issue today. “Our alliance is sound,” he assured those gathered.
In fact, the prime minister opened his speech with the point, to make it clear to anyone who might have doubts, that his only goal is to make sure that Israel’s citizens are kept safe.
The prime minister said plainly, “I deeply appreciate all that President [Barack] Obama has done for Israel. I am deeply grateful … and so should you be… My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.”
The prime minister said the news of the “demise of the U.S.-Israel relationship is not just premature – they’re just wrong.”
“The last thing that I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue,” Netanyahu said. “Israel has always been a bipartisan issue, Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue.”
But the prime minister made it crystal clear that Israel would defend itself in any way necessary to ensure the survival of its people. “No one makes alliances with the weak,” Netanyahu said. “We defend ourselves … today we have a voice … I plan to use that voice.”
Meanwhile, a weary-looking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded in a somewhat exasperated tone: “We will not accept a bad deal. We have said no deal is better than a bad deal. Any deal we would agree to, would make … especially Israel, safer than it is today,” he told CNN in response to Netanyahu’s speech via video hookup.
The problem, of course, is the definition of what a “bad deal” is, and how that might affect Israel’s national security.
Israel and the U.S. do indeed agree on the goal, said Netanyahu: both wish to avoid empowering Iran with the capability to build and use atomic weapons. “But we disagree about the best way” to achieve that goal, Netanyahu said.